Church leaders across Asia have joined Pope Francis’ call for “care for creation” as the Catholic Church marks this week the fifth anniversary of encyclical Laudato si’.
In a video message, Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta called on the faithful to have “a noble heart” and “make our earth a prosperous and peaceful place for all creation.”
In Pakistan, Bishop Indrias Rehmat of Faisalabad reminded Christians to commit to “treating and consuming the resources and God’s creation with care and love.”
The prelate called on the faithful to use environment-friendly products instead of non-biodegradable plastic bags that pose threats to people’s health and the environment, reported Vatican News.
The Church in India launched a small booklet promoting sustainable lifestyles even during the coronavirus pandemic.
Also in India, Redemptorist Father Ivel Mendanha released a series of videos providing daily reflections about the care for the environment.
The Jesuits in India have likewise encouraged students to join the group “Tarumitra (Friends of Trees),” a student organization that aims “to protect and promote a healthy environment.”
Cardinal Suharyo, head of Indonesia’s Catholic bishops’ conference, said the observance of “Laudato si’ Week” is an invitation to everyone to share the pope’s concern about the environment.
On May 17, Pope Francis expressed hope that the people’s common reflection and commitment “will help to create and strengthen constructive behaviors for the care of creation.”
The pontiff said everyone is called to become more aware of the importance of “caring for our common home” especially during the pandemic.
The Holy See earlier announced the observance of the “Special Laudato si Anniversary Year” that aims to emphasize “ecological conversion in action.”
In a statement, the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development said the encyclical is “just as prophetic today as it was in 2015” as the world faces a pandemic.
“Truly, COVID-19 has made clear how deeply we are all interconnected and interdependent,” read the statement.
“As we begin to envision a post-COVID world, we need above all an integral approach as everything is closely interrelated and today’s problems call for a vision capable of taking into account every aspect of the global crisis,” it added.
Activities, such as prayer services and webinars dedicated to environmental care, education, and the economy, have been scheduled throughout the year.
Catholics are reminded that Laudato si’ can be a “moral and spiritual compass for the journey to create a more caring, fraternal, peaceful, and sustainable world” amid the pandemic.
“We have, in fact, a unique opportunity to transform the present groaning and travail into the birth pangs of a new way of living together, bonded together in love, compassion and solidarity and a more harmonious relationship with the natural world, our common home,” read the Vatican statement.